TIMMINS, Ont. – A steady drizzle yesterday brought relief to northern Ontario communities battling massive forest fires, allowing some residents to return home.

Some areas of Kirkland Lake were deemed safe by Sunday night, a week after a raging fire came within three kilometres of the town prompting sweeping evacuations.

But despite the rain, hundreds of residents in Timmins, about 140 kilometres to the northwest, are still barred from their homes, cottages and campsites.

Emergency officials say conditions have improved but the crisis is far from over — and access to at-risk areas will be limited for some time.

Sprawling wildfires have ravaged rural areas outside both communities since May 20.

The wet weather has largely doused the flames, leaving wide swathes of charred and smouldering terrain that firefighters say is still dangerous.